Welcome to Breaking Geek, a column that just won’t go away, where uber-geek Nick Doll offers commentary, reactions, and theories regarding the most interesting news of the week (or whatever he feels like), using his expansive knowledge of all things geek! Today I explain why I think Shazam! is already f***ed!
You read that title right.
Shazam! is doomed! Doomed I say!
Sure, this is only a theory based on my experience working at a movie theater and being an all-around Cinephile. Yes, the reviews that are a long way off will play into the failure or success of this film. No, I am not paid by Disney, and only have a Marvel “bias” when it comes to quality of movies, which I would argue is not a bias at all as I simply enjoy things that are good, which at the moment is more Marvel Studios than DC Entertainment.
Shazam! might be good. Hell, it could be great! As previously stated, quality is not what I am looking at when I say the film is doomed. Rather, Shazam! has some rather stiff competition boxing it in at a time when most don’t need yet another superhero film.
Let’s look at some superhero film release dates in Spring, shall we?
March 8, 2019 – Captain Marvel
April 5, 2019 – Shazam!
April 12, 2019 – Hellboy
April 26, 2019 – Avengers: Endgame
Damn, that’s a short window for almost a handful of superhero films.
To start, even Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame are not spaced as far as apart as 2018’s Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War were. At the theater where I work, we still had Black Panther for two weeks after Infinity War’s release. To be fair, Black Panther was a huge hit, with cultural significance, that no one could have predicted. Kyle here at LRM is predicting Captain Marvel may underperform, which is also a possibility, at least if Marvel Studios is expecting another Black Panther-sized hit.
Captain Marvel does feature Marvel Studios’ first solo film with a female lead, and even though it does come after Wonder Woman, I think it will beat that film’s gross due to the Marvel Studios brand having a stronger reputation of making consistently great films. Plus, even though we have been getting more female-led films as of late, there is still enough of a shortage that a movie like Captain Marvel should be in high demand.
DC has made great improvements of late, with Wonder Woman and Aquaman exciting comic book fans from both sides of the aisle. But I still feel it needs several well-reviewed films in a row to truly earn back the general audiences’ trust.
Shazam! could definitely be another step in that direction. It may be a fantastic film that cements DC as a studio that can produce quality films consistently… if people see it.
Because that’s the rub, folks. Looking back at those release dates, Shazaam! comes one month after Captain Marvel, which is a fair enough space between superhero films. Deadpool 2 crushed it following Avengers: Infinity War in an even shorter release window. But, Shazam! is still an unknown franchise to most, while Deadpool already had one hit under his belt.
More worrying are Hellboy following Shazam! by a week and Avengers: Endgame coming out not long after.
Now, Hellboy and Shazam! do seem to be aimed at demographics. If DC has played their cards right, Shazam! should be, based on the source material, even more family-friendly than most the Marvel films, while Hellboy is obviously aimed at an older audience. So, technically these two films won’t hurt each other as far as wide audiences are concerned.
But… sitting between Captain Marvel and Endgame is what scares me about Shazam!’s box office potential, more than it being a week earlier than Hellboy. Hellboy is even more likely than Shazam! to flop due to its chosen release weekend, and some fan frustration that we’re getting a reboot and not Guillermo del Toro’s end to his Hellboy trilogy.
Yes, we geeks have little problem seeing 3-4 superhero films in two months, but what about wide audiences that don’t read sites like LRM, following movie news and making you even more excited for superhero films on the horizon?
How many people see three movies in two months? How many people see two movies in two months? I’d say that is far above the average than most general audiences, especially those with families, as movie tickets aren’t cheap. And don’t even bring up the snacks!
I think general audiences, if my theory about less visits to the movie theater holds true, will flock to Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, leaving Shazam! with nothing more than table scraps. This would be due to brand loyalty, both due to the quality of the last ten years of MCU films, and the fact you basically need to see Captain Marvel before seeing the most anticipated movie of the year, Avengers: Endgame. So, if a family is only doing two movies in two months, those two films are the obvious choice for the mainstream.
Then again, in the town I work, reviews are everything. The only films immune to bad reviews and word of mouth have been the Star Wars Christmas releases, and Avengers films. Not simply MCU, but especially Avengers films. If Shazam! gets great reviews, and the marketing continues to paint it as a more unique family film, maybe people will take notice and leave their streaming services for two hours for a third movie in two months.
Look, I don’t want Shazam! to flop, unless it turns out to be Suicide Squad or Justice League in terms of quality. If it’s somehow that bad, it can rot in Hell. I want success for both Marvel and DC. Sure, I prefer the MCU at the moment, but if DC can make great films, I don’t see why I couldn’t be a bigger DC fan in the future.
Hopefully, I am wrong. But recent trends seen in past years do not bode well for Shazam!, and I am still shocked DC plopped it right between what may be the two biggest films of the year, depending on Star Wars fatigue. This is only a theory, but I feel pretty damn confident in it.